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What is a bankruptcy “Petition Preparer” and is it a good idea to use one and file bankruptcy without an attorney? The short Answer is “absolutely not!” Read below for more information.


What is a bankruptcy “Petition Preparer” and is it a good idea to use one and file bankruptcy without an attorney? The short Answer is “absolutely not!” Read below for more information.

A “Petition Preparer” is someone who advertises, often at a low price, to “prepare” your bankruptcy paperwork for you to file with the Bankruptcy Court.  On the surface it may sound like a great idea to pay someone $200.00 to “prepare” your bankruptcy so that you can file it with the bankruptcy court.  It is much cheaper than hiring an attorney to file a bankruptcy on your behalf and you may believe that anyone who advertises offering this service would be able to take your information and prepare a bankruptcy for you properly and in a way that protects you. It is certainly true that it can be challenging to raise the money necessary to pay an experienced bankruptcy attorney to analyze your circumstances, advise you of your options for debt relief, prepare and file the appropriate bankruptcy case and manage that case to a successful conclusion.  As a result a “Petition Preparer” may appear not only cheaper than hiring an attorney, but more convenient, easier for you and also may appear safe.  However, in many ways choosing to hire a “petition Preparer” is the absolute worst option you can choose to try and get relief from your debt and could end up costing you many times the amount you believed you were saving as well as putting at risk your opportunity for debt relief.Lets look at the facts. To begin with when a “Petition Preparer” fills out your bankruptcy paperwork (which literally means only that they fill in the blanks on the forms with the  information you provide them), even if they are able to do it correctly, you would still be acting as your own attorney.  A “Petition Preparer” is not a licensed attorney and is prohibited by law from giving legal advice or even providing information about your options for debt relief.  A “Petition Preparer” cannot advise you if you risk losing property by filing bankruptcy or how you may be able to protect your property, preserve your financial assets and keep your home, automobile and other personal property through bankruptcy.  Using the services of a “Petition Preparer” leaves you without important information about how you can get debt relief but not place your assets and your financial future at risk.  Even if you take the risk to rely on a “Petition Preparer” you would still be without the services of an attorney to advise and guide you through the bankruptcy process.  So, while it is true that you have the right to pay a fee to a third party to fill out your bankruptcy paperwork and thereafter act as your own attorney in any case filed with a court, including the Federal Bankruptcy Court, should you do so?  For reasons I will explain below the answer is a very big “NO!”Without question, and without exception, considering bankruptcy is a serious undertaking.  The decision to file bankruptcy, and if so the decision regarding the type of bankruptcy that will meet your needs and circumstances, can have serious long term effects on your financial future.  Bankruptcy is a complicated area of law.  For that reason there are experienced competent attorneys who do not practice bankruptcy law.  This is not just because many lawyers prefer to concentrate on others areas of the law.  Instead, even experienced attorneys recognize the complexity of bankruptcy law and what is at stake for a family considering bankruptcy relief.   Likewise, the average person cannot possibly know enough about bankruptcy law to make decisions about their best options in bankruptcy and thereafter properly and correctly prepare the paperwork the bankruptcy court requires.  The average person cannot know what is necessary to protect their assets and their financial future.  Neither will a “Petition Preparer.”  There is no training or education necessary to advertise as a bankruptcy “Petition Preparer.” The bankruptcy code, essentially the law governing filing bankruptcy, is over a thousand pages.  Certainly not every page applies to every person but how will you know which applies to you?   How will you know what steps you must take or how the paperwork must be prepared to protect your assets?  If you rely on a third party to fill out your bankruptcy paperwork how will you know it has been filled out correctly?  How will you know if the “Petition Preparer” has filled out the paperwork correctly to protect you and your family? How will you know what you must do after you file bankruptcy to keep and protect your home, your car and/or your personal possessions?  Only an experienced bankruptcy attorney, NOT A “PETITION PREPARER,” can properly advise you and protect you and your family.

Lets look at it another way:  if you wake up one morning with a nasty tooth ache would you go out to your garage, grab a pair of pliers and pull your own tooth.  Of course not! Would you call an auto mechanic?   After all, an auto mechanic knows how a pair of pliers work and could probably use pliers to pull a tooth.  Of course this is a silly example and most of us would not even consider doing either one if we woke up with a tooth ache.  Instead, we would call our dentist, a trained professional.  When it comes to life’s complicated problems we want and need to hire a professional trained to assist us and resolve our problems the right way.   Although perhaps not as obvious, decisions about bankruptcy and filing bankruptcy without the advice and assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney can potentially endanger your possessions, your property and your financial future.  Like pulling your own tooth, or having an auto mechanic do it, filing a bankruptcy without an attorney can cause some serious pain.

Certainly it may be tempting to hire a “Petition Preparer” and save the money you would spend on an experienced bankruptcy attorney by filing a a “prepared” bankruptcy without the advice and assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney.  But keep in mind that the advice and assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney is more than just filing out the paperwork correctly (something a “Petition Preparer” is in fact absolutely not able to do since it requires giving you legal advice).  It is about ensuring that you and your family have the best chance for a fresh start and the best possible opportunity to rebuild your financial life.  Hiring and paying an attorney for their advice, counsel, assistance and the benefit of that attorney’s knowledge, ability and experience is an investment in your family’s financial future that ensures that you will obtain the greatest possible opportunity for a fresh financial start.

Are you considering hiring a “Petition Preparer” and thereafter trying to act as your own attorney?  Do you have questions about your options in debt relief?  If so, I would invite you to first call us for a free initial consultation with a local attorney at Kinkade & Associates.  At Kinkade and Associates our service to you begins with a free initial in-person consultation with an experienced local attorney.  At your free initial in-person consultation an experienced Kinkade and Associates attorney will talk with you personally about you and your family’s options for debt relief.  At Kinkade and Associates we do not give “one size fits all” advice that is not personalized to you and your family but instead provide to you the individualized advice and service you deserve. Some firms that do bankruptcy work handle all initial consultations by telephone or delegate the initial consultation to a staff person within the firm.  At Kinkade and Associates we believe that your family’s financial future is simply too important for you to rely only on a phone conversation or an initial consultation with someone who is not an attorney.  At Kinkade and Associates we believe that you should not make decisions about your family’s financial future based simply on a phone call or a conversation with a non-attorney staff person or worse yet, a “Petition Preparer.”

Our fees are reasonable and we accept payments on our fees over time. If you hire us to work for you we guide you through each step of the process that is the best option to allow you and your family to achieve your goal of managing and resolving your debt.  From the initial consultation through the completion of our services to you the personalized service provided to clients at Kinkade and Associates continues until we have done everything possible to assist you and brought you to the point where you have the opportunity for a fresh financial start.  During that process you and your family can rely on Kinkade and Associates to provide to you the thorough and personalized legal representation you and your family deserve.  Our Pledge to you and your family is straight forward and effective.

The attorneys at Kinkade & Associates welcome the opportunity to meet with you personally to discuss your situation and provide you with detailed personalized information about the options that are best suited to your family’s circumstances.  Please contact us through our web site or give us a call to schedule your free no obligation initial consultation with a local attorney.

Thank you for considering Kinkade and Associates.

“Kinkade and Associates, helping families rebuild their financial life.”


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